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tv   Book TV  CSPAN  December 10, 2011 7:00pm-8:15pm EST

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.. >> and no melissa harris. argues that naked stereotypes of african-american women affect their engagement. >> thank you so much for coming
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out. i know is a very rainy and end of the week, and all of that sort of thing. i have been excited by the of which entity to come ever since i found out that there was going to be his chance to present the book in this particular environment. so, what i will do is kind of take as little time as possible, actually to be is that some of the main ideas of the book, just so you know what kind of project is. and then i would like to kind of open it up for conversation, and i'm happy to talk about questions from the book or to talk about sort of american politics more broadly because i know that many of you may know me much better for my sort of public role than from my academic role. so this book is a long time coming, it feels like. i have been doing a lot of press lately about the book. people keep saying why did you
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write this book now? i didn't write this book now. have been writing this book for with longtime. i just happened to manage to finally finished it and get it published now. but it is a book where i have a very, very first ideas about a decade ago, long rego now than that. the very first day that i collected from this book was around 2000, and i'll tell you the very first thing that inspired me to think about it. i was watching a commercial. i want to say it was a united way or some other sort of commercial. in it they had an african-american grow running through a typical, as we would see, presented on television black urban ghetto. he knows would never it was. you know, this is going past, you know, trash heaps and, you know, streets with the windows broken, and there are people standing on the corner. and the voice-over comes and says something like, you know, every day there to run past drug
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dealers and this sort of thing on her way to school and home, run run. it was kind of this celebration of what a powerful little girl is that she could manage to get to school and home under these circumstances. my first thought was, i'm sorry, could we help route? could we make her neighborhood and never heard that she would not have to run through in order to go back and forth from on school. and it was in those first thoughts about how we often celebrate the resilience of african-american girls and women in these difficult circumstances so much so that we can sometimes get blinded to doing the political and social work of cleaning their circumstances of so that it would not have to be so strong and resilient in the first place. that was the very first word of initial stirrings of this project. and it has changed formalize. when i first read in the bucket
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was a book about resources. all the things a black women don't have. disparities in health and how we are more likely to die of a whole variety of diseases and conditions than our white sisters. it was a book about our economic circumstances and how little wealth we have and how much debt we have, how many fewer educational opportunities we have to read it was a book about a long history of those resources parody's and all the political and social work we have done tried to close some of those gaps. and then august 29th 2005 happened. august 1 and 2005 is the did the levees failed in the aftermath of hurricane katrina. it did change the book. i could prove where about two-thirds of what i had written. i did not quite throw it away. the move into another file. there may yet be a book project there. but as i watched what was happening in that post moment,
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resources mattered. recesses perry's were incredibly important glasses, party was important. but in the work and research and conversations and analysis post katrina the main thing that people were telling me was the most painful, the most horrible, the most awful part of the experience was not only the loss of property in the loss of community, but the sense that they had been thrown out of the american story. that by being called refugees, but being called one way tickets away from homes where they have often been in multi generational communities, by hearing over and over again that there never rigid committees were not worth saving it should just be turned into green spaces for environmental reasons that it was as much that this ownership from the american story, the sense of not even being citizens worthy of having communities and homes and lives worth fighting for.
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and so the book shifted. still a little bit about research disparities, mostly it's about how it feels to try to do the work of being an american citizen when you're in a black woman's body. its starts, therefore, because of that shift, because hurricane katrina change everything about the but, everything ultimately about my life. here's a letter of -- now live in teach in new orleans. it begins with -- you will remember that watching god. and with a devastating hurricane . it ends with a hurricane in the everglades that disrupts jamie's life. taken us on this path with ginnie mae crawford over the course of her life. multiple husbands and all of this self identification and has finally found a place where she is laboring in working hard and live in communities and it all gets disrupted by this hurricane
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. she actually finds herself, like many of the woman in norman's on the roof of her home. she finds herself with her beloved in this circumstance of racal -- racial hierarchy when she's infected cell to bury the widebodies into graves. those were black and killed by a hurricane. late into mass graves. the correct line is turnover them. and then because his bid by a rabid dog in the context of the hurricane she ultimately loses and as well. so that is read this book begins. this begins with the question of how the story, the story about one black woman and her sort of search for identity, how that is actually a political story and it is not just a romance novel and it is not just a novel as was often written off and there on time by her male peers of the harlem renaissance. she was not really doing the
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work of political commentary. she was just writing about how women feel. and so i tried to ana p that as a way of saying when we write about how black woman feel we are writing about politics. how we feel is both socially constructive and has social and political meaning. and so a framework for the buck. one of the french market want to offer, and this is my training as a political psychologist. this is research and technology, not race or gender or class. its research on how our brains work. in the first time i found it fascinating. it is will we caulfield dependency studies, and dependency here is not political dependency or economic dependency. and it's not the political field. it is literally are visual perceptual field. will we see and how will we see impacts how we figure out where we are in space. some of the coolest. if you know this because some of the coolest and visited imagine.
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which is subject to our room, and it was dark. they put the light on. it was put on in the room. all the angles of the world, the walls instead of meeting in 90 degrees would be off kilter. the doorjamb would be of kilter. all of the pictures on walls would be hung at an angle. everything around you would be off kilter to their particular angle. and you as a subject to be sitting in a chair. universal studios, you know those chairs the move. you are -- responsibility was to find the straight up and down. for everything around you the very thing in your perceptual fields of kilter. responsibility is to see if you can figure out what is written down. despite these images around them their will to find a straight up and down. field appended this is of
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research on race or gender politics. i said, though. that is just like being a black woman in america. everything is off kilter. everything you expect to be it 90 degrees is meeting in about 62 when that picture looks about right, but you kind of have to do like this to be able to see yourself in it. the field, the perceptual feel for african-american women is literally off kilter. and so the claim i make in sister citizen is that it works, running for office for real political work. being on the school board is political work. but it is awful real political
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work to just try to find one's authentic sense of self and a social political and historical environment that is going to keep giving you back negative images and cricket ones. so the three that i deal with most closely in the text i the jezebel or the kind of hypersexual ruined the city is always available black woman. this is a myth that is easily read in the white supremacy of american slavery when you had to have more reason that you believe on the one hand that woman were pure and chase and could not work and had to be protected in the domestic sphere . simultaneously kept all of a group of women, not only laboring as agricultural and domestic labor, but reproductive labor. went -- believe the women i chased and have a whole group of women obviously doing the work of reproducing slavery, literally with their own bodies. one way you do that is you create a series of --
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stereotyped as says this woman are not like those women. these women other hypersexual jezebels will gladly make. thomas jefferson talks about the black woman that he sees outside of his monticello window as being willing to meet with the rantings. the kind of theory that he has about two black women are, so that is one myth or stereotyped. the second when i look at is that of the many. and, you know, on the one and a method of slavery but does not show up. shows up in jim-crow as a kind of romantic remembrances of slavery who after all we are in a time of freedom and emancipation. black man trying to find a place of citizenship as americans regard to go back and recall and rubber that actually the thing go most like to do is to take all the talents and get some skills and energies and serve with domestic households. in fact, that was where there
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would be most happy. i . out that this is such an embedded critical way that we understand black women in it is impossible. it is just impossible to escape. she is everywhere. in the most unexpected places. i was in new york on the night that the first section the city moved opened, not the second one which was horribly imperialists and problematic. but the first one. you know what, we're just going to go out and see a movie, something like to my take our minds off of things. you know, just check. so we go and sit down, kind of watching it. all of a sudden there's jennifer hudson. this exclusive woman who we love, whose talent we embrace, who was so excited to know. here is jennifer munson.
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plan a 28-year-old woman who despite having fewer resources, having just arrived in the big city, and for some reasons begin with a southern accent, although she was from st. louis, missouri is able to come into the life of the white woman for whom she works and texas love life, website, her household, all of 35 like in 15 minutes flat. now, that is it. if you're a 45 year-old woman their job is to be the mentor to the young woman. your job, as a 45-year-old woman , kind of show or the ropes. but when this magical behavior happens the other direction and this person just literally has the keys, and is just go to fix all of it and in fact throat's a fixed immediately is that ever appeared on any sex in the city ever, at that point you know
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that they have passed and nanny. and mcenroe my friend and i looking at each other and saying, why? why did we discuss the a fund friendly movie and then, you know, she shows up for no apparent reason. she is this recuring conception that african american women don't need to have resources. they don't need to have equality they don't need to have the opportunity. there certainly and interested in contributing to their own communities. they're primarily there to serve as magical figures in the white domestic sphere. we can talk about the health later if you're interested. >> c-span if i do that. we will never get to the third stereotyped. and then that the stereotype, for such talk about the health, that of the angry black woman combat and particularly that we
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are emasculating the angry, that our anger over what is the men in our communities that, one of the things i want to point out is that these stereotypes and not just the production of white culture. they're not just the production of white politics, not just the production of white imagination. we are implicit in the creation of these within our own communities. i'd like to say that for example tyler perry hopes to promise for the help. our understanding of who we are, cricket not just fix really the boss of the journalists as 3/5 of its facilities, and a charge of the doe with the need for us politically, how that notion of the jezebel and backs welfare policy because it would think that black women are out of control sexually we could become
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very punitive in our politics for black women who are mothers with and married. when we think about that image we think about the politics a round which sorts of african-american women to revalue and what sort of labor practices of alysian. here in new york in 2010 domestic workers fled just beginning to deliver rights. big and 2010. because of we believe that people are attached to these households of love and affection by with any the fair labor counterfeit fifth and this angry black woman image which consistently in gauges and of politics because if you're just a rationally in briefs then when you present in every political argument i don't need to listen to it because you are just angry because. you're not angry for anything, not angry about anything. there is no contendere anger.
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your just angry, and so it's very easy to two new out. silicon of three of them, the political consequences, and then i looked. of course african-american women are not as victims and all this. powerful resistance and is that we have created. this idea of this african-american woman who takes a little bit from beach. maybe the best parts. after rock, the problem is the notion that a woman is just hypersexual. now we don't want to lose -- we don't want to have to push back so far that we can only be kind of in a narrow church leaders and ourself. we want to be able to continue to have some aspect of human such a malady that would be meaningful. we don't want to get rid of anger altogether. anchor is an extremely important powerful political motion, will want to claman for inside the community who want to say that
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it's for black families and communities, not the white domestic sphere. here is whether demonstrate in the but you already know if you ever read it. a strong black woman to be a problematic psychological contexts. there will remind you that, you know, that if you buy, you could have relief psychological impact. but you can begin to feel overwhelmed. you can't rely on anyone, you can't have a moment to break down of that, whether it turns out there is also made a political consequences. it will actually show some of the ways in which the city of impervious strength, the city that we can meet all its challenges can actually make us less likely that's for when need in the political sphere. really that is a tease, but really, really smart work to my
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clinic, social psychologists. and by solution -- positions as well about the impact in our bodies and minds. it turns out it's the politics as well. one more now rapine going to questions. if you believe that you are inherently strong, that it is your birthright and your religious responsibility it racial imperative and your born birthright to meet all challenges, then when there is an economic crisis that since the ship, since it for everybody in some groups in response ability have a right to as government to engage in a behalf. they go into the public square
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literally and shout and save this is unacceptable. 9 percent unemployment is unacceptable. i like to point out that in black communities 9 percent unemployment among men, that would because. 9 percent unemployment since the 78. i mean, are you kidding? demint, i can't -- i can't even -- i don't even know if you have to go to work for us to have 9 percent unemployment. the bomb we have been complaining about high unemployment rate in the 80's and 90's and in the first decade of the 2000's, your member we were told their lazy. we were told to better. retold we have the single mothers who are raising these kids and destroying them. so when we face this set of conditions were told that we were insufficient and to do better. now that these are conditions that impact the country at large
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is suddenly an institutional problem. a structural problem. austria and the white house are to blame. it could not possibly be these individuals because these individuals i citizens. they have a right to lay plans and the economic and political system to address their concerns . but if you are not a citizen, if you're our refugee, if you are a subject, if you are on the fringes and if it is your responsibility to meet all the diversity on their own then how dare you ask her a more fair and just and reasonable distribution of resources that would and should be to actually listening your burden. go all the way back to that first genetic way commercial, is wonderful to celebrate our strong black women, are strong black girls for their ability to be resilience up to talk tough circumstances, but if we take
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our eye off low politically we just leave those tough circumstances in place. so that is what the book is up to. it ends, as every book written between 2008 and probably 2020 will close that chapter of obama. i am pretty sure even if you read a book about, you know, nuclear physics that the last chapter is nuclear physics and the age of obama. i'm pretty sure that's true, but this is a look about black women, so it is now with a chapter about president barack obama to read it into the chapter about firstly michele obama. in an attempt to try to think through how first letting michele obama, despite the fact that she has all the resources, all the opportunities, all the privileged and nonetheless is still sitting in a crowded room and how she somehow really does find the upright in that court room and now she is sometimes bending over to accommodate the-averages, i talked in the
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book about the across case. talk about substantially and repeated the about hurricane katrina. traditor into the questions of the protestant churches and african-american communities. some experimental data, survey data, a lot of poetry, not that i wrote, thank god. trust me, nothing that i would have written. my poetry sort of peak in eight great. in a lot of reliance on women like toni morrison and hearst and and our black women authors to have entered already written the social scientific truth over and over again, but they were riding in the context of literature and novels. and so that is what -- that is kind of the offering of the book. i'm hoping when you get to the chapters of a full of numbers and stats, we put everything in
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the appendix, so it is there for you if you're that kind of reader and want to go check the regression coefficient that is absolutely in the book, but if you don't even really want to know what that is, that's fine, and you should be it will hopefully make it through in a readable way. does the book and a lot of questions. [applause] [applause] and by the way, c-span is taping. if you have questions, or going to pass the microphone just so that the sound ends up on tape. and i suppose that if you also don't want to submit to government surveillance use of the c-span that you can certainly opt out. and again, happy to talk about the book and/or the broad political climate.
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>> i. thank you. it just so happens my daughter is a freshman. i'm very excited. >> great. >> what do you make of young women today, the young 18 and 21 in don't necessarily come even though many have grown up in households where there were -- they talk about these issues, the stereotype, but who kind of don't claim it in terms of they don't want -- if they have not really realize how low world views them, they have not come into their own yet to realize that even though there may be more, people of different cultures any up together, you're still a black woman in america. >> so the and the parent of an nine and a half year-old african-american daughter. and i think that this is one of the great challenges that we face as parents of the
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african-american children. you're sitting next to my mom, led away. and so it is a challenge as shields of undoubtedly faced. on the one hand we want to create a world that does not limited. so for me one of the most exciting things is that my daughter really has only one living memory so far of one president, and that is barack obama. she knows that there was george bush, and that was a bad thing, but -- most of it is the growth in my house, the president does your numbers and one out there, because she was born in chicago, and she was to during his first campaign for the u.s. senate. there were signs all over our neighborhood. one of the first when is this you were to be was a bomb because there were these signs everywhere. so obama is profoundly deeply in
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her consciousness. if barack obama is there that means session amalia obama there. so she is growing up in a world where it is no big deal that to the lead grocer is live in the white house as the first daughter's. but then we live in the seventh word in new orleans. it is really important from the issue comes up between and the teen that she also understand that when she encounters the american state, which she will most intimately encounter in the person of the new orleans police officer that the fact that she is a little sauce somalia obama is not necessarily cause for celebration when she has encountered. so on the one hand she encounters the state in the person aboard obama who looks like her and his all-america and her or one thing, no double consciousness, hearing that right up. but then we also have to prepare
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the aryan people for the realities of the continuing truth that race does matter. and we are always lagging. so on the one hand we want to teach our kids that we are always likely because race is consistently changing, so even as we teach them something, you're teaching them something that is ten and 15 years behind where they are, and so they're always pioneering em front of us, even as we're trying to tell them something the research you think about the young men and women of the civil rights movement his parents are the young men and women of the depression. so what happened after world war two and blackmun were lead story in military uniforms. there join their sons and daughters. herman cain is deeply problematic, but i understand why his father said to him, when you go off to college don't go to those. announcing a agree, but i understand why an
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african-american man sending his son off to atlanta at that moment said stay. be safe. don't engage. because it is not like they had not been engaging. they had been engaging since the 1890's. we have been failing, not because we were failures, because the state is serious and is serious about protecting white supremacy, the 1940's you're telling your sons, don't engage. the thing is there is a set of political possibilities opened up. you as a parent born in the persian cannot even see. and so here they are breaking because you don't even know. but then you also need to mention to them that this is a problem. so i guess what i would say is i get that it is the single hardest thing. i think also would save i'm not sure we ever really need to teach our children about oppression. i figure they will assign out.
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some will find out sooner and earlier. some will find out later. i think we have to tell them about our history. we have to tell them about stories of resistance. we have to prepare them so that when it happens it will be painful, but not surprising. but i am not sure that we have to convince them that it is coming because they may now believe it. the file balance say is, not only with african-americans to grow up with some measure of privilege and and really sort of find the realities of american racing and hard in their late teens and their vigilantes. i'll see this with young women. so often young women who go to schools with boys and girls and don't experience gender bias. even kind of making all the way through college without much of a gender identity and in much of the workforce.
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all the sudden the roles of gender or maybe they haven't even made it that far, they have the first baby. as on my best friend like to say, the baby is yours. no matter how wonderful and fabulous and egalitarian your spouse is you just find out how powerful these continuing gender roles are in the context. and then all of a sudden on one class. i would get a e-mails for my students seven years. yes. you're right about that. so i don't have an answer except to say that on a teacher. and so i think the single most important thing that we do is as nuns as mentally as possible provide our children whether their biological children of a chore of our community with as much information about our history as is humanly possible. and then they will build new buildings. it will craft new projects with that knowledge.
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but if we don't give it to them, if they don't, you know, we were driving in and saw that harriet tubman, and i looked and said, do you know that is? that is harriet tubman. underground railroad. yes. okay. good job. the is an issue and certainly tell me. no doubt that she could. so as long as she can do that, we're okay. >> i have the same question. all the way from boston. >> oh, my gosh. so have a question. i have witnessed a lot of your work. tv. in the health the image of the help command of the dew of the images incidences that it -- the society they. really get a movie. can you respond to the idea on one hand that you want to respect the movie, the producer,
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the actors, actresses, but at the same time we want to be critical because these are images. now wait for a black engineer, the black superman, the image of anybody. the heroes. can you respond to that? >> sure. as fast as possible while willie will do this on my, let me try to do this. let me start by saying i'm not the fun police, not respectability police. i think is fine to have negative. -is fine. i'm not worried about negative. i'm sorry about false. falls in just a second. it's okay because we all have positive and negative. i am not even terribly worried about everything having to be uplifting. this is my cost of refining. the truth is i listen to it, it's sometimes uplifting because is not particularly a piffling. at a really bad week about two weeks ago committing allocate melt.
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just an avalanche of hate mail. i tried, you know, i liked. that helped. jesus still loves me. but it did not quite kidney -- that made me feel better but not ready to go out and speaking in. and so the thing becoming my voice back was -- and i needed to listen because she was like whatever. and you know, it's a little more obscene than that, but i needed both cut lows man and okay, that didn't feel like it even if i never speak again. but she's like and then i came here to do this and so shut up. the wood to herself. so it's not that it needs to be of positive. here is my primary concern with the help. it is presented as though it is really advertised as though it is a story told from the perspective of a black woman domestic.
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if they say this is a coming-of-age story of what a young woman in jackson mississippi in the 1960's it be okay. i would not be thrilled, but it be okay because it would say, this is a story of me and now i see the help around me. instead they say this is their story, and it patently is not. so i love by ellis davis. what -- i want to see her in everything. but i love her. she was extraordinary. she did things with that character and, the wind -- i mean, that is why she won the academy award. but is not the case. if not slightly okay, not even on the edge of being close to being anywhere near some of the acceptable. it is so not located if they begin to reproduce them we should protest. it is not okay. she should work, took her job. we can respect and love the work she doesn't even shell to hold her up a certain kind of here
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within our community. miles davis is extraordinary things with one of the most frighteningly racist and sexist groups that i've seen. she can't stand that dialect that the book is written and, this kind of have you ever met anyone who ever talk like that. and if anyone did speak like that the white and black people in the community speak the same. the wave folks don't speak -- its regional. people speak one way or another. if you don't speak in beautiful perfect english. i mean, it's nuts. so here is the huge fosses that is so dangerous. the first is that the author purposefully uses a set of literary devices so that we never have to cope with the single most important and most challenging aspect of domestic workers live, and that was that every l.a. she's been in a white household was an hours spent with our family. and so what the author does is
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skills of this sun of the main character fists. the other main character, her eyes with his abusive. the only moment that there is some black man is a disembodied voice. so you don't have to go home to them. you done to worry. there is no trade-off. you can go spend all of your time and never have any sense of next. so whether then coping with it sieges wipes away with a literary and wedding. not only that, but as much as she is able to begin to push out of the kind of narrow context the said that they love each other, so this is clearly have they don't love each other. she cannot fathom. she can for a moment imagine for one second that her many did not love her. his work for her.
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and when and criticize this in public the repeatedly have when americans go to the money was a member of my family. you understand. the me to read the story. seacoasts of the skinny now. unlike, but you didn't pay your she would not come in here and would. your aunt in your family, in their parents chickens over. many come and that, that check. so she may be your deep douglas employee galicia's your employee . so she can't, the fact is the best story in in a moment when you see visually so bad now but the mobile and is that visible holding low bonds fell blond babies face it was a lot to have to sit through. the second, can i believe this
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is happening? assassinated in the movie, assassinated and all the black women made in response to the assassination of this critical civil rights leader take themselves over and tell their stories. the assassination is the thing that makes them brave enough to go talk. that is a lie. that is not negative, is just a lie, not what happened. when they're actually assassinated in jackson mississippi real women who were actual black woman who actually worked at maids did not sing, they walked outside with the threat of the police force. they walked outside. there was no mystery here. in the to tell the story. they did not get some kind of release posed assassination. telling the story. that is a lie. and it is not like a lie that
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you don't have access to. there are five really brilliant relatively recent historiography is written by high-profile african-american women that tell the actual story of what actually happened. and so he ignores and goes and tells this fantastical story and then that becomes a movie that starts a number two and goes to number one, do you know how that never happens? it did you did number two and went to number one. people will believe that that is the story because they have not read it. and so says they have not read it and don't know that, they will think that means when and told the story. all right? that's number two. number three, horrifying and crazy. is this really happening? teaches her white woman to cook. in her what a woman is the classic, the wind because she's
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having a miscarriage is. there is a smaller she goes in and helps her aftermost recent miscarriage. i don't know nothing about berthing no baby moment. she goes. teaches her how the cut. and so then to fund sorry, i literally cannot remember name. she says, well, they sit down. and in the movie the voice-over comes over and says, and after eating food she finally has the courage to go home and leave her husband, the abuse of one. so the white woman could for the black play in the black police harassment. one side. a write about -- actually deals with this specific moment. not like an obscure person. nobel prize-winning. one of her first novels.
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in it, your member. a bad guy. he and separating his teenage daughter. he is not a likable guy. he is married. pauley is a domestic worker. she is working in the wet woolens household. you need to leave. and let me say, she probably does. ma'am, why would a black woman leave a black man for by a woman . and this is 19703, i think. in other words, we have already had the momentum fiction, already got through. already in dates that. and then through the voice of tony morrison, as she goes back and rewrite. in this case it makes sense. forced to leave out. and then the fourth and final and most like -- really, it was all i could. the end of the movie, viola
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davis is character being fired. she is being fired. she was walking off into the gym unemployed. we are in an economic downturn with a 9 percent unemployment nationally. the occupy wall street right now behind the fact that there are no jobs. we actually get what unemployment is, and i sat in a new lows movie theater and an audience applauded as this woman walked off into the gym gross up unemployed. and i assumed it is because we believe she's a strong black woman. i assume it's because we believe that she can walk off into an oppressive system with knowing come. an older woman, doing this for all these years. gone off to the art writing about these black maids. but this woman is going to walk off unemployed and soon the jim crow south and we're going to
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applaud. at best even if you went down with kevin that happen in the movie the best of the indy should feel kind of like, who, well, that is complex. there of the workout. no. it is this triumphant moment. the black, and unemployment. what the hell is that? and for me every bit. so fabulous. and then if you go to the home shopping network that are selling products, a line of products inspired by the help. yes, you can get your own bottle iron. you can buy the cute little dress that white women in the movie you're perfectly. so if i am inspired and now want to go, will would i be buying? will that be doing to get that? i mean, i don't really understand. what will be inspiring. and when you look at the history of how it was used to sell everything from pancakes to home
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appliances, me, the revival. and it is happening, and we are like, go see that. obduracy that. a million hundred thousand plans . and sitting there, john boehner plan for seven hours nexus' someone reading in smiling. it's very, it's -- none of that is okay, and i will even go. that is in the book. >> okay. >> basically i just of a couple questions. the role of black? and also, what would you view as
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more problematic, institutional racism or black racism? black leaders. >> okay. that is a lot going on all once, let me try to do something about it. look, the new jim-crow. fantastic. it should be required reading. so certainly gives us such clarity on how the -- how the realities that crime does not increase but our definition of crime changes. and when we change the definition of crime and replace it on to a set of bodies that we believe is inherently deserving punishment and we become willing a society to accept a level of
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bondage, i think it is the best word i can use that we would not otherwise think that we would find acceptable. if i told do these statistics of side of saying there are about prison, then you would find them obscene norland feel like these human rights violations. only talk with them in the context of prison, all tomorrow, they're having the criminals. so they've become the find out group that is fine to treat all of these or find ways. let me just -- and so let me say, i think there are incredible projects in local communities during work around this, and one of my pushed tax always when i hear about the notion that there is a lack of african-american leaders is that that has not been my experience in black communities. right now in new orleans i can name for you like seven locally led fundamentally underfunded
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community non-profit organizations addressing everything from housing to incarceration of fundamental done work. and it does the there is no such thing. i can't stand to you that,. i was too young to be part of the movement. there is no moment when the movement is now occurring. it is just moments when it was more successful in terms of this legislative action. so the zero and then focus on a because those are the moments of success, but they're always preceded by decades of failure first.
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i think about the death of fred shuttles work this month and how little, you know, a data and send a steve jobs died. and so we're not really talked about that. it was something. angry and cantankerous and kind of a perfect. always actually irritated. a lot of the things that for example, you know says about president obama, a coward, about him being somebody who compromises too much. really got young people, the children in the bombing as children march. nobody does it make good sense to go public it's on the front line. shuttles were state, so he -- he is the indication of the kind of leaders we always have. so right now. because we are so focused on memorializing came in granite, not that he does not deserve it,
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but you could imagine a different kind of statute. this is imbedded in the rock around him. emerging from all this other stuff. none of that, none of that is a take away from the notion that black elite is and is a real problem. but i always say it is a very old problem. the case that establishes separate but equal in this country. a creole of color. he is so visibly and visually wait that when he breaks the color barrier on the train he has to get to the train conductor until and, sir, i am breaking the color barrier because he is a creel of color. you don't even know it. so when the court makes the decision in plessey the ferguson
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of the separate but equal they're doing two things at the turn of the 20th-century moment. they're about determining this policy the black-and-white should be separate, there'll sorry inscribing the ones. so black-and-white should be separate. they decided that a different way, it would not necessarily have met with the brown v. board decision meant, it could have just met the creation of a third class of people. the creation of a kind of creel past that might have had a set of opportunities open to then that would be different. at every point as we look along the social and political axis there is always some question about the role of kind of booze one negro and the working-class black folk and the -- and other interest coincides. shuttles were then king is part of was going on. a middle-class preacher's kid. a poor kid from the head.
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and that's part of what they're having next about to mothers respectability question, question around rosa parks is this figure for the montgomery bus boycott verses the pregnant teen who had taken the exact same action a few months before but who was a disreputable person to be the figure for the movement, so it is just to say i'm not sure that i would ever count black leaders and were sort of the economic differences the trend blacks as the primary problem because it is too consistent. in other words, it is kind of always being navigated. always much more interested in institutional racism. does not mean that it could not be. is just an always much more after to other interested and institutional racism. [inaudible question] so the question is, and institutional racism is because more fixed. i don't think it is a ball. part of what we see in the past
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three years is just how nimble american racism as. american racism is good. it does not stay in one place. it will move with you, so just when you get the vote, go ahead with that. now we're going to do this. now, you can win the election, will change zero tour college. so actually, i just think that, you know, -- and actually think the point about the complex shows this. so if you can't have flivver, that's all right reader will do sharecropping. we can't do that. let's say we will do -- so there is a way in which it is quite nimble, in part because it is an apiology, so this is what goes and connects back with the future citizen but, the idea that today is not just the same as yesterday. i really, my 20-year-old student sitting in an integrated classroom who tells me, seeing a black student in prison is just like slavery.
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that's just crazy. no, it's not. it's not close to being. it's not. it can be bad without being that bad. and so we see these changes. but i just also want to say one thing. i also feel, a little bit of complicity in the question that you asked about blackie because to pretend that the leeches and is not real is very self protective for myself. and it is one of those things that i think all of us who have a microphone and a public voice and income and wealth and status and all of that have to be so careful about all the time because the easiest thing is for us to believe that we are speaking for everybody else. because, of course, the other person. and what derek bell reminds me over and over again as i look at his life and his work is that these is live to tell yourself
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is that your individual success is the success of the group's. and particularly when we operate in marginal groups which can say, well, we see a lot of this in the civil-rights leaders. well, as long as i get elected, as long as i become. i am black succeeding. see me? succeeding. here comes blackness. all of my disagreements, one thing absolutely agree with them about is that the existence of the obama first family does not itself indicate anything about the realities of black families in america. i mean, so i disagree with them on a bunch of stuff, what he is right that this success is not. and so derek bell was so keen when he talked about ethical ambition, to remind yourself the easiest thing to do is allow your own ambition to stand in as an ethical statement about everything.
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if you as a marginal persons exceed that it is easily ethical. don't worry. owned by ge and bank of america and all of that. microphone that is paid for by all of these corporations to say things about black people. don't get on me about that. no. of course. you know, that is plantation. that was the plantation. i mean, all of that is. all that is blood. there is no moment about that that is not. so i just want to say, when i hear that question i don't have an answer to it and the sense that i can say, oh, you know, don't worry. we have it all worked out. i really just want to pause and say, yes. once he is in is not sufficient as a liberation strategy for the group.
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we have to back here. >> all right. hi. okay. you might have blocked about this, and i might have missed it. i wanted to get your comment about football, yeah, and white privilege because there is a lot going on on line that one woman who had that son, and it turned that were multiple women. right. and i love to say that? >> let's not. >> exactly. but nonetheless, it is just so surprising that you need to have another conversation. i'm like, didn't we talk about this? to separate black bass and womanhood in that sign and to bring it up and think it is whitney to work with it during football and black women blueprint to read a letter that, you know, talked a lot of the images you are talking about light why the words let me not
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resonate with people of color because of how we are already over sexualized. there is that, but there is also barbara walters was talking on those you about using the n-word. i'm like, do you want to say it that bad? in a, what is that about? feeling some kind of entitlement i don't know. everything has gone wild. i was just interested in your take. >> so i did not write about that. thank goodness my brilliant colleagues did. i will encourage you. he wrote it for the nation. it is doing all of the work that and utterly you are doing, intellectually fair. but, look, so i always feel like, you know, there are people who just discovered my work the more rabid it just turned on m.s. in deasy last week. there is a small group of people who first discovered be in 2008, not that i am to be discovered, but you first saw me on what is
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now sort of a cult classic moment which was this democracy now debate between me and gloria steinem. yes. right. so i looked very bad and very angry. that very bad lighting. but, it was me having to experience. are we talking about human sexuality again? is this really happening? ..
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i know that you know this because i have seen the conversations you have already had with kim crenshaw and angela davis, literally you have already had these conversations so the main thing i can say it cs, yes we are having them again and my daughter will have them, yes. because here is the deal. those stereotypes i talk about in the book, they don't exist because of something we do or don't do. black women who were slaves were not -- that stereotyped as jezebel's because it did useful political work for a system of slavery. black women who serve as domestics to feed their families were not happy but that persistent stereotype existed because it did political work for political economic and racial systems. we are not irrationally angry. when i ever our prayer i'm angry, it's actually about something. i never just wake up mad, right.
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[laughter] but we are consistently, right? and this notion that we are emasculating. chris rock had, and they talk about this, chris rock had a skit during the 2008 elections where he said barack obama can never be president because he has a black wife and a black woman can be president but a black woman can never be a first lady because they can ever play the background related shin should. you look at the fact that african-american women are the fastest-growing population of new hiv infections, but most of those are the result of heterosexual unprotected sex with african-american men and we are the fastest growing population of nearly incarcerated persons and most of our crimes are excessive or he crimes. we let the brother's -- the drugs. we hold the boyfriend boyfriends gone and so we play in the background of relationships so hard that we are literally
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writing and dying. we are the most background of the relationship playing people you can imagine but as long as you create the stereotype that we are emasculating and angry you never have to talk about the way in which we are fundamentally victimized in the intimate and political relationships. because it serves political purposes, those things persist and exist and we can't respect our way out of them. we can't be chased and therefore just a bill will go away. we can't be all these -- always calm and therefore angry black women will go away. we can be a solidarity around reproductive rights movements every day and still get slut walk out of feminism in 15 minutes flat. that said i still think that this moment is a space of progress over and above a moment 20 years ago or 40 years ago or
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100 acres ago not in some progression line or something going straight up but that because i think the struggle matters and so like this other story my mom is the most loving and compassionate human being on the planet and my dad, not so much. [laughter] my dad is fantastic but hard and so, you know my mom would bake a cake for my birthday and make sure that if i had a marble cake that the marble went through perfectly and my dad when i was a little girl he would give me a birthday card in my birthday card would not say love daddy. my birthday card always said the struggle continues, daddy. [laughter] that is not a joke. six, seven, eight, nine years old, the struggle continues, daddy. the funny thing is now if i signed a book for you i will sign at the struggle continues but the helpful part is it's a
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bit of a mantra so yes. yes we are still having that. the struggle continues, yup. [laughter] >> do you speak to at least -- i guess the impact of black women throwing water at each other having in our community and some degree i think it's a contradiction because i hear black women saying they are so ashamed of these images and embarrassed that we are the ones giving them the highest ratings. we are keeping the shows alive so can you talk about that a little bit? >> i mean, it's tough because reality tv is my most problematic vice. i actually -- [laughter] and i want some of the nice stuff like top shelf but i actually did know all the characters on real housewives of atlanta. actually i only just started
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watching it because my husband said to me melissa you cannot go around the country and talk about black women stereotypes and have never watched it because people will ask you about it. it's very important. [laughter] so i do have a white mother and there are moments when my husband is still my ambassador to black men. okay honey you are going to need to know about this. [laughter] so despite the fact that i'm a so-called -- that one was beyond my -- greg here's what i will say. there is a really great book on reality tv written by my friend and colleague jim posner called reality by fact and it's in general about women and reality television. she talks about races will race as well particularly the editing of black women into the angry black women so the most important thing to know is reality tv is not documentary. they are highly highly edited
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and edited in these franken clip ways to make people into things. ama rosa's brother was just killed this week in an act of violence and she is such a good example of someone who was profoundly edited, absolutely edited. is she tough? i'm sure but at that particular demonic self that she became on the apprentice, that is the result of editing and if you met her she's a lovely human being. here's the smog -- woman of great personal suffering. if an order for us to think of a woman who has a brother who is vulnerable to violence in the american system, see how none of that fits press with this notion of ama rosa soper made a big danger in reality tv versus merited tv which is full of negative stereotypes of black women is the notion that it might be real. so at least one year now, i mean i hate to even name them but the
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angry black woman, the mammy, the jezebel, i have forgotten to 27 and how they will put different versions of the black woman together and even the ones that we like, the shows that we like and have held up like cosby which my daughter has a strange connection to. cosby is a great show but it is stereotype. no one is claire festival, right? so she does a whole strong black woman thing because apparently i was watching it the other day and i didn't realize they had her make partner at a new york law firm with five small children. , on. [laughter] no, she didn't. [laughter] no she didn't. and that is what we have to deal with? that's ridiculous. so far may i think the danger of the reality tv is that there is not some new set of images but because we say they are real, do
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you think they can be more shaming. a lot of the book is about the kind of shame and how shaming operates to keep us from engaging politically. shame has physiological impact that causes us to withdraw. so i think part of the reason black them and consume it and i will make this my last statement on this, part of the reason we shame -- mackenson they shaming images and part of the thing that bravo and all of these others are relying on is that it helps us actually feel less ashamed when they see the exaggeration. so what happens, i was wondering what would happen to our consumption of the real housewives series, all of them in the economic downturn. and we actually got more interested in seeing the path ologies of rich people. it would have already been interested but off the chart because it is sort of fun to imagine that even if you are uber wealthy or are specifically over wealthy but more messed up and you are. so uber like my houses in foreclosure but wall map.
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i have really got it all together compared to these people. so i think part of it is it is simultaneously shaming, it's shaming when we know that it's being observed by outsiders who might perceive us using the same lens, but it's not shaming if we think the door to the crooked room is closed because what we are actually doing is comparing ourselves to their level of cricketness and feeling pretty darned upright in comparison. so we do this all the time. we do it with all kinds of things. if we think we are in an enclosed room, this is my first book, then what we perform is very different then when we perform if we believe we are being observed by, particularly those who we think will be potentially oppressive. that is reasonable to behave differently in what feels like a private safety area been in one that is potentially unsafe.
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>> well map. [applause] >> this was so fantastic. the struggle continues and this is so imperative. we really want to thank you for being here. thank you so much and we want you to please come up and she will sign does for you. if you need a book, we would love to have you spread the word about this bookstore. thank you all for being here so very much. [applause] speak on this way and she will sign here. >> for more information visit the author's web site, melissa >> on your screen is well-known
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historian stanley weintraub, whose most recent book is called "pearl harbor christmas," a world at war december 1941. mr. weintraub that was 70 years ago at this time. what was christmas 1941 like in this country? >> christmas 1941 was a very quiet time. people were stunned by what had happened at pearl harbor and this was the first christmas after the event, and so i wrote about the aftermath worldwide, what it was like around the country, what it was like around the world, and it was still a time when people would like their christmas trees. there was an official blackout but nobody paid attention. rationing hadn't begun yet, so the seriousness of the war hadn't really sunk in.
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>> what was washington like at that time? were they gearing up? >> washington was gearing up but in a very strange way. there weren't really enough antiaircraft guns available in washington although we never really did have an air raid, but there were wooden mock aircraft guns up on the roofs of buildings so people would feel that they were being protected. it was a strange christmas. >> had the draft started? >> the draft had started in 1940 before the war began and president roosevelt had a very difficult time in october 1941 renewing the draft, because there were so many isolationists in the country. the draft passed by one vote he can as general marshall, the chief of staff, came to congress and pleaded with him. he said it's essential to be prepared and they were prepared by one vote. >> stanley weintraub, what was
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president roosevelt's christmas like? >> president roosevelt had a visitor from england, prime minister churchill. he took churchill to the foundry methodist church in washington for christmas morning and churchill, for the first time in his life, heard a little town of bethlehem song. he was not a churchgoer despite his name. >> stanley weintraub this is your third book is in it, on christmastime? >> i think it might be my fourth. silent night about the christmas in 1914 of world war i was the first. i did one on the revolution. george washington coming home at the end of the war and actually arriving at mount vernon on christmas eve. i did another on the battle of the bulge, 11 days of december, that was a war


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